“The education and exposure provided through the Garden program provides an opportunity for children to learn about fresh fruits and vegetables.  They learn where the produce comes from and what it tastes like fresh from the garden. It is a valuable tool in helping children form a preference for healthier foods.” Carol Marples, Former Director of the Loveland Schools’ Lunch Program

Frequently Asked Questions

We get lots of mail and always want to answer your inquiries.  Our staff has created this mini FAQ page for the most commonly asked questions.  Click on any question to display the answer.

Do parents participate?

Yes! Parents and grandparents are welcome in Granny’s gardens, and many help when their child’s class comes out to garden.  We try to have two parent volunteers with the class each time they come out.  This allows us to divide the class into small groups of 6-7 students which makes for a better experience for everyone involved.

Gardens require lots of attention; how much work can young children really do?

Our students participate in all aspects of gardening from putting down compost and weed chips to planting, weeding and harvesting. However, everything they do in the gardens must support the district’s curriculum. We have lessons for weeding, for example, but it only takes place once a year. So students are involved in garden upkeep but it is not their focus. The kids are there for hands-on lessons that the garden environment helps to teach. Granny’s relies on our few part-time staffers and lots of volunteers to do weeding, watering and general garden maintenance.

How can I help Granny’s Garden School?

There are many ways to support Granny’s Garden School, including:

  • Financial support or donation of in-kind goods/services: from printing, graphic design, baskets, to pots and furniture to paint, to things lying around the house, we are constantly looking for items to help us further our mission.
  • Volunteer for our annual Plant Sale and/or Harvest Celebration.
  • Volunteer to work in the gardens or the office: there is always work to be done!
  • Attend Granny’s Spring Plant Sale, held the first weekend in May
  • Join the Bouquet-a-Week Club
  • Join Granny’s Garden School Boosters.
  • Spread the word: Like Granny’s Garden School on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and share our stories with your social network.
  • Hold a mini fundraiser in your neighborhood, with family and friends.
How did Granny’s Garden School begin?

Granny’s garden school began with Roberta “Granny” Paolo’s desire to share a love of gardening with her own grandchildren and evolved from there once they entered school in the Loveland School District. After winning the support of school administrators, teachers, parents and staff, the program that is now Granny’s Garden School was launched.  More.

How do you measure success?


“Granny’s Garden School brings the Science Curriculum to life outside of the classroom walls.” Brandi Carter, 4th grade teacher


We measure success through feedback from many sources.

Children in the program

  • We measure success by the children who stop us as we go about our lives in the community to say, “I started a garden at home.”
  • The mother who said, “My child tried beets at school today and wants me to fix them at home. How did you prepare them?” (They were raw.)
  • The grandparent who shared that her grandson and she were spending time together working on a garden at her house. “He asked me if we could grow things like they do at school.”
  • Granny was working with a Harvest Helper and offered her two children baby green beans to try. The sister took one but said, “Johnny does not like vegetables.” “Okay,” Granny said, and popped it in her mouth. Then she turned to the little boy and asked if he would like to try one. He tried it, decided he liked it and munched on them the rest of the afternoon.
  • We add a check mark to our success measure each time a child tries a pea, baby green bean or other vegetable and decides he likes it.


  • Wendy Ray, Loveland School parent – As a parent, I value your program immensely. Your program not only teaches the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables for our health, it also enhances all parts of the student’s education. It provides hands on learning and direct life experiences in relation to science concepts, math problems and literature and important background knowledge needed for the comprehension of these subjects. In my experience as a former special educator, any hands on education greatly enhances a student’s learning.
  • We know we are impacting lives with things like the mother who emailed “My daughter was so inspired that we came home and found one of the few sunny spots in our shady yard and put in a vegetable and flower garden plot. Two of my three daughters, my husband, and I dug up the clay soil, added sand, manure, and topsoil to improve the growing medium, and planted several flowering plants and vegetables. Now we are harvesting the produce.
  • My boys helped me plant yesterday and they were telling us everything they learn in the garden and my husband was so impressed with all they learn. Thank you for all your time. The program really has given them a greater appreciation of plants and the outdoors. Kelly Cook
  • My daughter was so proud of the bookmark she made from flowers she pressed and I enjoy it nearly every day too. It was a great gift! She and her Dad, along with the retired neighbor Bill, have been vegetable gardening this summer. Her favorite is peppers. She has become quite good at making “stuffed peppers” for our family. Carletta Jacobs


  • Granny’s Garden School provides a great resource to teachers as well as lessons and activities that promote learning for all students. The Garden Curriculum aligns well with the Ohio State/Loveland Curriculum Standards for 4th grade Life Science–specifically plants. The lessons/activities are well designed, promote critical thinking skills, and help students realize their critical role in the world around them. It’s typically a once a week commitment under the leadership of talented, organized, and knowledgeable class Garden Educators. Brandi Carter, 4th grade teacher.
  • Granny’s Garden School has made a positive impact on our school both visually and academically. Their lessons have been extremely influential in my students’ learning. As we study concepts in class, students are then given hands on opportunities to explore concepts in the garden and in nature. The lessons are engaging and the students as well as the teacher have learned more about the world around us. Megan Little, Second Grade Teacher
  • The garden program offers a variety of engaging, standards-based lessons. I know that when they learn in this way it has a greater impact on them, far greater than reading facts in a text book. When my class plants and cares for vegetables in their garden, they will then eat those vegetables. They will also learn about that vegetables life cycle, the compost it’s grown in, and the insects found in the soil where it grows. Brooke Hobson- Second Grade Teacher.
  • This unique program provides many educational opportunities for my first-grade students. The activities are well-planned and align with many of the state standards across several areas of the curriculum, thus supporting my teaching in the classroom.The children are able to learn in a way they never would be able to within the confines of our classroom, and that is why I firmly believe this program is a very worthwhile use of our teaching time. The Garden Educators are knowledgeable and well trained, and I always end up learning new information right along with the kids. Jane Wind – First Grade Teacher

Food Service

  • Carol Marples, Director of the Loveland Schools’ Lunch Program wrote. “Granny’s Garden School is of immeasurable value in helping to educate and promote healthy food choices to young children. My staff and I are challenged with finding ways to get children to choose and accept the healthier food options that are offered to them every day. The education and exposure provided through the Garden program provides an opportunity for children to learn about fresh fruits and vegetables. They learn where the produce comes from and what it tastes like fresh from the garden. It is a valuable tool in helping children form a preference for healthier foods.”

Visitors from outside our area.

  • Evelyn Alemanni, International Judge for America in Bloom, Communities in Bloom, and LivCom Awards. “Granny’s Garden School is one of the most remarkable children’s gardening projects that I have seen in judging more than 60 towns in five countries. It is a focal point for the community, offering beauty, inspiration, practical lessons and a means of creatively enhancing every class. It galvanizes the community with a multitude of positive ways to interact, support, learn, enjoy. The rewarding interactions of volunteers, teachers, students, and sponsors go beyond gardening and extend into friendships, community enhancement, and healthier lifestyles.”


How many students do you work with each year?

[start-indent]Granny’s Garden School is one of the largest and most comprehensive school gardening programs in the country. Each year we provide more than 44,000 hours of garden based education to more than 2,000 elementary school students in a public school environment as part of the school day. (2,000 students x 22 classes). Granny’s Garden School uses public school grounds to help students experience nature, the satisfaction of growing their own food and appreciation for the simple pleasure of picking a flower. The program collaborates with schools to offer hands-on learning opportunities that compliment the school’s curriculum.[end-indent]

How much does it cost to run Granny’s Garden School?

It costs about $100 to fund one child for one year (22-24 sessions), or $3,000 per class.

This does not include the thousands of dollars of in-kind goods and services we secure each year to provide such things as printing, wood chips, compost, technology support and general supplies.  We also utilize more and 1,000 volunteers each year who donate more than 6,000 hours of service at a value of more than $60,000.

Must I be part of the school community to volunteer?

No.  Most of our volunteers are from outside the community.  They range from families to high school/college students and retirees.

Teachers are already so busy – don’t garden lessons impose an extra burden?
The purpose of Granny’s Garden School is to provide the support that makes it doable for a school to have schoolyard nature gardens. Lessons are conducted by Granny’s garden educators, allowing the teacher to participate, but not be responsible for the curriculum. Granny’s garden educators follow sound, time-tested lesson plans that the teachers at Loveland and Princeton schools have praised as age-appropriate, effective, and consistent with the schools’ curriculum. Granny’s Garden Schools hold copyrights on the lesson plans, but we share them, free of charge, with educators.
We live near a Granny’s Garden School; may we visit the gardens.

The gardens are open to the public except during school hours.  Please bear in mind that the flowers and foods in these gardens are “Spoken for.” Everything in the gardens is there for a purpose related in one way or another to educating our students.  There are special programs/projects where members of the community are invited to tour the gardens and pick flowers and even harvest.


What does my donation provide?

It cost about $100 to fund one child for one year (22-24 sessions).  We work with nearly 1,600 students just at Loveland.

$1000 funds a spring’s worth of lessons for 1 class.
•$500 funds five weeks of outdoor classroom activities for 27 students.
•$250 funds a Nature Trail Walk and lessons for 90 students.
•$100 funds one garden lesson for 1 class.
•$75 funds a set of garden trowels for 1 class.
•$50 funds enough purple carrot seeds for the year.
•$25 funds one bag of potting soil for starting seeds and cuttings.  We use about 8 bags each year.
•$10 funds one kid-size garden shovel.

Who pays for all this?

Granny’s receives no tax funds or public support. Donations of supplies, tools, and materials and volunteer labor are vital to our existence, and they help keep our overhead low. But we do have expenses and fundraising is a continuous necessity.

Granny’s conducts special fundraising events each year. We also seek monetary support from corporate and private donors, local businesses, and families and individuals who recognize how children benefit from  Granny’s Garden School and want to help ensure its future.

Granny’s is a [501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Why are school garden programs important?

From the educational perspective, school garden programs offer a wide range of opportunities for deep learning. Granny’s Garden School uses our vegetable and flower gardens and ¾ mile nature trail to teach state of Ohio curriculum standards in science, math, and social studies. Our lessons and activities provide students with hands-on educational experiences that supplement and expand on classroom lessons. Many of our activities require a multi-step approach to encourage critical thinking as students work together to make observations, record findings, and interpret results orally, and sometimes graphically.

Our outdoor classes facilitate active learning when students hold nature in their hands to collect information that helps them understand the connections between living things and environmental processes. Our lessons are uniquely tailored to grade level complexity and build on learning from year-to-year and within the grade level.

Ultimately students understand cycles of organisms in nature and the effects of human and natural impacts by exploring nature. In addition, school garden programs are seen as the way to solve or curtail problems such as childhood obesity and early onset diabetes, while also promoting healthy eating habits, guiding children to become good environmental citizens, and providing hands-on, problem solving learning opportunities for children-particularly children with a variety of learning disabilities.


Why is an organization like Granny’s Garden needed?

A school garden is full of potential.  Granny’s Garden School turns potential into reality.  There are two components that are key to the success of a school garden program: meaningful lesson plans that are aligned to the schools curriculum and trained garden educators to support the teachers in using the gardens.  The garden educator is the more important of the two.